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As a way of maintaining the current level of employment as well as creating new jobs, the Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations (Nikkeiren) proposed that wages be reduced and job-sharing be adopted by more firms in its annual report released Wednesday. The business organization’s report is regarded as a guideline for corporate management during upcoming labor-management negotiations over wages and labor conditions. In the document, Nikkeiren urged both labor representatives and management to acknowledge the reality that Japanese companies have no option but to reduce personnel expenses to maintain the current level of employment because of Japan’s high cost structure. The annual report, compiled by Nikkeiren’s committee on labor issues, was approved at a general meeting of the organization. During the meeting, Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of both Nikkeiren and Toyota Motor Corp., stressed that maintaining jobs is an extremely important issue to the management of Japan’s companies. “We should prevent a situation in which the job environment will worsen because such a situation could lead to a vicious circle of a further slump in private consumption and worsen the already slackening economy,” Okuda said. “In order to make sure that the economy recovers, we need to wipe out the sense of insecurity among the public over jobs,” he said. “To that end, it is clear that improving business performances and strengthening corporate bases are essential.” Nikkeiren also proposed drawing up and helping implement various types of job-sharing schemes. For example, the business organization suggested cutting back on wages combined with a reduction in working hours as a way to avoid excessive employment at a company. It was also suggested that part-time staff be taken on for some of the work currently carried out by regular employees to create more part-time positions. Nikkeiren also pointed out that the government needs to draw up a mid- and long-term approach to labor issues as Japan will inevitably face a decline in its working population in the near future. To cope with this problem, Nikkeiren called for increasing job opportunities for women with the support of the national and local governments, while also suggesting the creation of attractive job opportunities for foreign nationals. The organization also proposed creating jobs specifically for middle-aged and older workers to make the best use of the experience and capabilities of those people.

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